Panerai began making watches in Florence, Italy back in 1860, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that the firm produced its first wristwatch. By then its roots in Florence were as deep as those in Switzerland, where Panerai watches were produced.

The breakthrough for the company was an order for diving watches from the Italian Navy, for whom Panerai had been creating instruments of various types since the turn of the century. With a war coming on, the navy was keen to outfit its elite corps of frogmen with wristwatches.

Featuring a Rolex movement, the limited-edition Panerai Radiomir (only 300 were made) was designed for use by commandos and torpedo riders—frogmen who rode a slow-moving torpedo toward a target before attaching a timed mine to the underside of a ship and then riding away. The watches had a cushion-shaped case, a screw-down crown to keep water out of the movement, and oiled-leather straps that were long enough to be worn on the outside of a diving suit. Given their limited supply and the tough conditions they were subjected to, these watches are very highly prized by collectors today.

The watch took its name, Radiomir, from the luminous material that Panerai first developed in 1910. Made of zinc sulphide and radium bromide, Radiomir allowed the numbers and hands on a watch to be read in dark conditions. It was replaced in 1949 by Luminor, which glows thanks to the presence of tritium, a less-dangerous compound than radium bromide.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Panerai continued to produce wristwatches for the Italian Navy in regular and destro (left-handed) versions. Some watches from this period were known as Trittico watches, thanks to their trio of features, which included a depth gauge.

Panerai also made Kampfschwimmer watches, some with so-called California dials (numbers on the bottom, Roman numerals on the top), for Germany’s only postwar commando unit. And in 1956, Panerai created a large-face Radiomir watch for the Egyptian Navy.

Panerai might have remained a military diving watch in the minds of the public had it not been for Sylvester Stallone, who, in 1995, purchased a Luminor while on location in Italy. Sales of the watches jumped after its debut in Stallone’s “Daylight,” and Sly even had some watches—dubbed Slytech—made with his signature engraved on the back. These he gave as gifts to friends, including fellow action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Panerai Luminor Marina 111 - Pam00111 H Series - Retail: $6,800Officine Panerai Luminor Power Reserve Automatic Pam00090 Wrist WatchPanerai Luminor Gmt Pam089 Titanium In Superb ConditionPanerai Luminor Marina Pam 111 Custom Black Dlc/pvd Coating Full Pkg "box&paper"Panerai Pam321 1950 Gmt Power Reserve Pam 321Panerai Luminor Marina Pam 001 Ss Automatic Mens Watch Op 6518 44mm No ReserveAuthentic Panerai Luminor Pam 114Panerai Pam 380 Radiomir Base Black Seal NewPanerai Luminor Marina Pam00113 Wrist Watch For MenPanerai Radiomir 3 Day Pam 424 47mm California Dial LnibGenuine Officine Panerai Outer & Inner Box Includes Rubber Strap Screw DriverPanerai Luminor Marina Pam00091 44mm Rare 664 Of 2000 MadePanerai Luminor Base Stainless Steel Watch Pam 010 A SeriesPanerai Pam 214 H Radiomir Rattrapante Split Seconds Chronograph 45mm StainlessOfficine Panerai Travel Case, Rare And Hard To Find, Free ShippingPanerai Strap Genuine 26 X 22Panerai Luminor Marina 18k White Gold Carbon Fiber Dial 44mm Dive Watch Pam 180Horween Leather Distressed Dublin Panerai Watch Strap 24/24mmLuminar Panerai AutomaticMarina Militare With Panerai Str 6497 Hand-wound 44mm Black Dial With Superlume Genuine Panerai 2000s Automatic Luminor Marina Mens Wristwatch Dial UsedOrig Panerai Ferrari 2000s Scuderia Flyback Auto Chronograph Wristwatch Dial NosMarina Militare With Panerai Str 6497 Hand-wound 44mm Black Dial With Superlume Horween Leather Distressed Dublin Panerai Watch Strap 24/24mmOfficine Panerai Wooden Presentation Box 7 1/4 X 7 1/4 X 3 1/2 Genuine Panerai 2000s Automatic Power Reserve Mens Wristwatch Dial UsedHorween Leather Distressed Dublin Panerai Watch Strap 22mmPanerai Ferrari Scuderia Automatic Chronograph Fer00002 WatchPanerai Luminor Marina Firenze Black Leather Strap And Stainless Buckle 22mm PamPanerai Book Collectable* Bargain* Panerai Historia - Negretti 1999 26mm Green Canvas Panerai Watch Strap24mm Premium Silicon Rubber Black Band Strap For PaneraiHorween Leather Distressed Dublin Panerai Watch Strap 20mmGenuine Panerai 2000s Automatic Marina Mens Wristwatch Dial UsedOficine Panerai Silcone Bezel Case Protector 44 Mm Plastic Panerai Oem Thumbnail Dlc BuckleHorween Leather Distressed Dublin Panerai Watch Strap 22/22mmHorween Leather Sage Green Panerai Watch Strap 24mmPanerai Watch Catalogue 2012Horween Leather Blue Nubuck Panerai Watch Strap 22mmPanerai Oem Dark Navy Blue Alligator Strap For Radiomir 27/22mm Authentic 47mmPanerai Box Wood Box Officine Panerai

Recent News: Panerai Watches

Source: Google News

Laings of Glasgow signs up Officine Panerai
WatchPro.com, October 17th

Officine Panerai is the latest luxury watch brand to be offered at Laings of Glasgow, going on sale in store and online from November 1. Joe Walsh, Laings of Glasgow managing director, commented: “Panerai is a fantastic brand and will be a great...Read more

Panerai's hidden depths
Telegraph.co.uk, October 9th

It's also the principle that has made Panerai the phenomenon it has become over the last two decades, Panerai's stock in trade is very limited variations on a templates that were laid down in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's – if you get the chance to...Read more

Panerai PAM 598 Radiomir 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso (PAM 598)
Perpetuelle.com (blog), October 1st

Reporting on the new many new pieces introduced at Watches & Wonders Hong Kong this year, here's your first look at the new Panerai Radiomir 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso (PAM 598). A real beauty, with a 47mm red gold case and Panerai's in-house ...Read more

Panerai Unveils New P.4000 Micro-Rotor Automatic Movement
Perpetuelle.com (blog), September 28th

At Watches & Wonders 2014, ongoing now in Hong Kong, Panerai has taken the covers off of its new automatic movement, the P.4000. The P.4000 is noteworthy as it is Panerai's first automatic caliber with a micro-rotor. The new caliber is being introduced...Read more

Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai: Patience and perseverance
Sail World, September 26th

It took quite a lot of patience and perseverance for organisers and crews alike at the Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai, but in the end, after a long wait, the breeze made its appearance on the Bay of Cannes. Postponement flags were lowered ...Read more

At the 2014 Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai nothing is carved in ...
Boxscore, September 25th

Régates Royales: September 25, 2014 - The third day of the 2014 Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai, featured the right alchemy that makes sail racing perfect: good weather conditions, excitement and top level crews. The Classics had their ...Read more

Perfect conditions for day two of Regates Royales
My Sailing, September 24th

The second day of the 36th Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai was much luckier than the first one. Despite an unusual grey sky, yesterday's strong winds gave way to much more moderate conditions, allowing the Committee to launch a coastal ...Read more

Regates Royales - Trophée Panerai: Legends in numbers
BYM News (press release), September 23rd

As expected, high force 5 to 6 winds swept the Bay of Cannes on the opening day of the 36th Regates Royales - Trophée Panerai, compelling the Race Committee to abandon racing for all classes. The crews waited expectantly until the decision by the ...Read more